Thursday, March 26, 2015

City Winery Declares the Start of Rosé Season with a Grand Tasting

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 8:04 AM

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of rosé, or at least it should. This is the perfect weather for a nice chilled glass (or bottle) of the pink, as long as it's the good stuff. Now that we've finally matured past the days of Sutter Home pink zin, wine fans have begun to appreciate the floral qualities of a fine rosé. As we transition from the heavier reds of winter to the "pool pounder" summer whites, City Winery would like you to stop and smell the rosés along the way.

On Sunday, April 12, beverage director David Mensch welcomes fans into the upstairs lounge area for a mega-tasting of rosé wines, and if weather permits, they'll open the doors to their two decks that offer some of the best views of downtown anywhere. The event will run from 3 until 5:30 p.m., so Day Drinking! Mensch will offer more than 50 different examples of still and sparkling rosés representing all of the major Western European wine-producing regions.

Tickets are available at City Winery's website and run $35 per person. When you consider how many wines you could have the chance to taste for that price, it's a heckuva bargain!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Great Okra Raid, Cheesy Slices and the Cheap Wine Scare: News from the WTF File

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Okra Madness!
  • Okra Madness!
The vast amount of crazy news we are all inundated with via social media can be a little overwhelming, no? What’s true, what’s not true…it doesn’t really matter if it gets a click. But here are a few items from what I have labeled in the inbox as the “WTF File” that I thought actually deserved a bit more investigation.

First, WTF is going on with cheap wine? Arsenic? Will buying cheap wine from California kill you? has the best wrap-up of the hubbub with a summary of facts from biased and unbiased parties. In short, drinking cheap wine will not kill you and there’s nothing to be concerned about unless you drink nothing but cheap wine and never any water. And if you do, you have more problems than what ingesting trace amounts of arsenic will cause.

Second, WTF is up with “Okra Madness”? Georgia police raided a retiree’s okra garden, suspicious that the man was growing marijuana instead. After discovering their error, the cops took samples of the plants anyway. It seems that these guys could use a little more plant education. I hope agents don’t come after me; I’ve got cutleaf toothwort growing all over my property.

Lastly, WTF, are nutrition experts endorsing Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product? No, but it certainly appears that way. Kraft is spending a lot of money to fund programs for the Kids Eat Right initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In exchange for lots of dollars, Kraft is allowed to use the Kids Eat Right logo. To the average person, the inclusion of the label certainly appears to be an endorsement, which has caused great concern among nutrition professionals, despite the Academy’s statement on the matter. Local nutritionist and dietetic technician Trish Mathisen of Nutrisha and others in the profession are outraged by the collaboration and have started a petition to the Academy to “repeal the seal.”

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Williams-Sonoma Announces More Classes for Spring

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 7:34 AM

A few months back, I told y'all about a series of cooking classes planned by the Green Hills outpost of Williams-Sonoma. The plan is to allow Nashvilians to learn about new cookbooks from celebrity chefs while actually getting a chance to experience the cooking process led by local chefs.

I was fortunate enough to attend the first class featuring Tyler Florence's new cookbook, (which sharp-eyed readers can probably deduce by looking at the picture of the class instructor, Joella Chudy, at work) and found it to be entertaining and informative. I learned a bunch of new cooking tricks and have already attempted a few of the recipes Chudy presented during the class. The fact that the class included a copy of the cookbook and a full meal made it quite the dining bargain.

So I'm excited to hear Chudy will be presenting another class in April and that Williams-Sonoma will offer two other classes this spring. One will concentrate on baking techniques taught by a former competitive television baker, and the second will feature the new book from chef April Bloomfield that concentrates on her talents cooking vegetables, a novel topic considering her prior book was titled A Girl and Her Pig. In between those two classes, Chef Chudy will teach a "Spring Fling" class based around a primavera menu that would be great for an evening with friends.

Check out the details of all three classes after the jump:

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tandy Wilson Named Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef-Southeast

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 8:54 AM

For the third straight year, Tandy Wilson is a finalist for Best Chef-Southeast in the James Beard Awards.

The City House chef made the cut along with John Fleer of Rhubarb in Asheville, N.C.; Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville; Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis; Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta; and Jason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston. The Southeast region includes Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Erin Murray, who moonlights as managing editor of Nashville Lifestyles, was nominated for her cookbook The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes, along with Boston chef Jeremy Sewall.

Two other Nashville semifinalists didn’t fare as well. Ben and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality (Outstanding Restaurateur) and their Patterson House (Outstanding Bar Program) didn’t make the finalist list. Both of those categories, which are national, are among the most competitive annually.

Sean Brock, who opened a second Husk restaurant in Nashville in 2013, is nominated for the national Outstanding Chef award for Husk Charleston.

For Wilson, who actually cooked for the Beard Awards gala in New York last spring, will the third time be the charm? The nature of the awards, particularly for those regions outside of the largest markets, is that chefs spend a few years as a finalist before winning as voters get a chance to sample their restaurant. Wilson has been the only Nashville finalist in Best Chef-Southeast the past few years.

Last year, Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, N.C., was the winner.

Awards will be announced in two separate ceremonies this year. Book, broadcast and journalism awards will be presented at an April 24 dinner in New York City. But, for the first time, the main awards gala will take place outside the Big Apple, this time at the Lyric Opera in Chicago on Monday, May 4.

The complete list of nominees can be found here.

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Celebrated Washington Winemaker Charles Smith Is Coming to Town

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 8:28 AM

Picture your sterotypical winemaker. Maybe he's a retired Internet millionaire who spent some of his IPO dough on a tract of land in the Napa hills. Or he's a transplanted Frenchman with slicked-back hair and a family history of crafting wines in the Loire Valley since the High Middle Ages. Or she's an earnest UC Davis grad with a bandanna around her hair working the dirt in her biodynamic vineyard. But odds are, that image probably doesn't look like this guy over here. --->

But maybe it should, because Charles Smith was named "Winemeker of the Year," a prestigious recognition from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, in 2014. Smith grew up outside of Sacramento and spent much of his 20s and 30s tooling around Scandinavia managing rock bands and producing music tours. Living this rock 'n' roll lifestyle exposed him to a world of great wines and food and (combined with his experience working in restaurants in California during his youth) convinced Smith that he was ready to start up his own winery.

He returned to the states and opened a wine shop near Seattle while he started his plans to enter the world of winemaking. In 1999, he opened his first winery in Walla Walla, Wash., and released his first vintage two years later. A few years later, Smith released a new line of wines that took off, one because they were fine examples of value-priced juice and two, because he trademarked a name that I can't believe had never been used: House Wine. The smash success of House Red allowed Smith to sell his brand to Precept in 2006, and he rolled the cash bounty into his second winery, Charles Smith Wines.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

What'd You Eat This Weekend? Oysters, Pimento Cheese and Cotton Candy Ice Cream

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Oysters from Rudies Seafood and Sausage.
  • Oysters from Rudie's Seafood and Sausage.
Andrea Zelinski: "I ate at the Farmers' Market TWICE this weekend, which never happens. Of course, I didn't opt for the healthy stuff. First round: Swagruha Indian Restaurant. I went with the old standby of butter chicken and chicken tikka masala with chicken rice, which always leaves me full and warm to the belly. The second time, slightly healthier. I hit up Chicago Style Gyro and had them cover a plate full of tabouli salad (instead of rice) and pile it high with gyro meat, topped with cucumber sauce. I felt slightly better about myself after that."

Laura Hutson: "I love oysters, but they're a kind of rare treat for me these days, and the past few times I've ordered them have been while I was out of town. But now that I know how good the oysters at Rudie's Seafood and Sausage are, I'm going to start getting them all the time. These were Blue Point oysters, and it was $14 for a half-dozen. I also got a small salad that was mainly arugula with a sprinkling of corn, goat's cheese, roasted tomatoes and spiced pecans — yum."

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Porter Road Butcher Is Throwing a Farm Party

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 8:46 AM

When I was growing up, a "farm party" implied lots of quasi-legal underage debauchery followed by a bad case of chiggers. Now that I'm an adult, at least in demographical terms, the concept is much more mellow if not less enjoyable. So when I read that Porter Road Butcher is planning a farm party in Clarksville for May 2, I immediately reached for my wallet and a can of Off.

To honor spring and raise some money for The Land Trust for Tennessee, the Porter Road boys are taking over Tennessee Grass Fed Farm for the evening to offer a three-course dinner featuring foods made by the PRB staff using some of their finest products and served family-style.

Yazoo Brewery and Beachaven Winery will provide the lighter libations while Corsair and Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery will take care of the hard stuff for Tennessee cocktails.

Two levels of tickets are available at the event website: a rural pass for $100 — which includes a cocktail hour with charcuterie and cheese spread, and a three-course dinner with food from Porter Road Butcher, followed by music and dancing — and a city pass that includes round-trip chartered bus transportation from Nashville to the farm for $50 extra.

The Porter Road Butcher Farm Dinner will run from 5:30 to 10 p.m., so go ahead and DVR that Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.

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Dinner Lab Partners With Trianon Tequila for Happy Hour Event

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 7:52 AM

We haven't written much about Dinner Lab here lately, but the pop-up secret supper society has continued a rapid expansion across the country and has been adding new services for their members. The latest twist has been lower-cost happy hour events to accompany their more extensive full meal happenings.

While the happy hours are still limited to members only, if you've been looking for another reason to join the party, you might consider signing up in time for a fun event Wednesday night March 25. Dinner Lab is partnering with Trianon Tequila, an award-winning spirits company that is actually based in Nashville.

The happy hour will be held in a surprise location that won't be disclosed to attendees until 24 hours in advance and will feature all three of Trianon's excellent tequilas, Blanco, Reposado and Añejo. Even if we don't know where the party will be yet, they have released the menu and it looks pretty intriguing for just $25:

Lamb Collar Arepa : kimchi chimichurri | smoked Idiazabal
Beer & Shot : Tecate | lime oil sphere | Trianon Blanco | agave nectar & chipotle salt

Tiger Shrimp : pickled jalapeño | prosciutto & adobo
Margarita : Trianon Reposado | clarified lime juice | adelaide & orange citrate | tajin salt

Brown Butter & Lemon Curd Tart : wine poached pear | chocolate lace
Craft Cocktail : Trianon Anejo & mezcal | yellow chartreuse & sweet vermouth | orange express

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Confessions of a Serial Entertainer

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 11:07 AM

Confessions of a Serial Entertainer is part guidebook and part cookbook. It is not filled with glossy images of irresistible dishes; the recipes are generally pretty simple and straightforward and often very familiar. That's because this book focuses on how to be a great host. Author Steven Stolman — a designer who with his partner splits time among homes in Milwaukee, New York City and Palm Beach — is the type of host you might have read about in Vanity Fair years ago.

The recipes included are there simply for reference; it's more about how to throw a fantastic party, no matter what the occasion or crowd, as well as how to enjoy it yourself (the key being simple dishes prepared ahead). There are tips on everything from timing and table spread to valuable information on how to end a party.

In reading the book, I found myself wishing I could be on Stolman's guest list. The next best thing is, of course, to take his advice and host my own fabulous shinding without fretting over some fussy dish and instead serving pimento cheese and tea sandwiches on elegant platters, with fantastic cocktails and wine.

I really enjoyed this book, though I would appreciate more photos, particularly of the dishes that were unfamiliar to me. For example, exactly what should Aunt Flo's Praline Ring look like when finished and presented properly?

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The Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Veggie Burger?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 8:52 AM

This week in Dining, Nicki P. Wood visits Lucky Belly, the new spot from the team behind Two Ten Jack. Located in Hillsboro Village, Lucky Belly offers a diverse menu that includes sushi, burger and milkshakes.

Among the items Wood endorses is a meatless burger, "a lovely beet-quinoa-black bean hunka with green tomato jam and a side of sweet potato sticks." She says it's "satisfying in its own meatless way, because it provides a lot of flavor-texture sensation."

Which got us thinking about the various vegetarian burger options in town. Way back in 2010, Chris Chamberlain asked this question as an Open Thread, partly because he was in the middle of a Lenten pledge to be pescatarian, and meaty burgers were out of bounds for him.

So it seems like this might be a reasonable query, as once again, we're in Lenten season, when lots of people skip meat. Also, considering the growth of Nashville's restaurant scene, I'm certainly hoping there are more vegetarian burgers on menus now than five years ago.

(By the way, the one pictured is not local, it's a stock image of a bean burger. Bites' photo files seem to be lacking veggie burger images.)

So please share with us, Bites folk: What are some good veggie burgers around town? And what else is on your mind?

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